DND verifying report on ships allegedly dumping wastes in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   July 14, 2021   •   398

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) is investigating reports of alleged dumping of human wastes by some foreign vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he has ordered the Western command, which has jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea, to verify the reports circulating online.

“We have taken note of the news circulating online about the alleged dumping of wastes in the South China Sea,” Lorenzana said.

Simularity, a US-based geospatial imagery firm, earlier reported that unknown ships have been dumping sewage and human wastes in the reefs of the disputed waters.

But Lorenzana expressed doubt over the report because of the photo accompanying it seemed to have been taken from a different area.

“The photo of a ship seen dumping waste accompanying the report was found to have been taken in the Australian Great Barrier Reef in 2014. Therefore, this intent to mislead has cast great doubt on the accurateness of the Simularity Report,’ he said.

“We also question the conclusion reached by Simularity from just looking at satellite photos,” he added.

Lorenzana said that while they are confirming and verifying these wastes being dumped in the West Philippine Sea, he said such irresponsible acts, if true, are considered to be gravely detrimental to the marine ecology in the area.

“Despite conflicting claims and interests by states in the South China Sea, all nations must be responsible stewards of our natural resources and environment,” he added.

Positive COVID-19 antigen test results now included in case count – IATF

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The number of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 through rapid antigen tests will now be included in the Philippines’ case count, Malacañang said Friday.

In a televised briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) reached the decision during their meeting on Thursday in an aim to improve the reporting of COVID-19 cases.

“’Yan po ang ating objective para mas maging mabuti yung picture natin kung ilan ang total cases natin,” Roque said.

He, however, clarified that these tests will be subjected to confirmatory tests.

The use of antigen test is mostly effective for people who already manifested symptoms within the first five days of their onset as the viral load of the patient is at the highest during this time.

In line with this, the IATF directed the Department of Health NCR Center for Health Development to monitor and facilitate registration of facilities using rapid antigen kits.

They must also ensure that antigen line tests are collected and consolidated from health facilities, localities, as well as temporary treatment and monitoring facilities.

“Kaugnay nito, ang Department of Health NCR Center for Health Development ay inatasang mag-facilitate ng registration ng facilities na gumagamit ng rapid antigen kits,” he said.

“Augmentation of disease surveillance surveillance staff and encoders are considered to ensure that line lists are generated and submitted on a daily basis,” he added.

As of Sept. 23, the Philippines has 165,780 active COVID-19 cases based on DOH data.

COVID-19 vaccines administered in PH now at 43 million – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has so far administered a total of 43,088,582 COVID-19 doses since the vaccination program was rolled out in March, Malacañang said Friday.

During a televised briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that 23,416,857 people in the country have received their first shot while 19,671,725  are already fully vaccinated.

Roque said this is 25.50 percent of the country’s target population to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Philippine government is looking to inoculate up to 90 percent of the country’s population to achieve protection against coronavirus infections.

Roque also reported that in the National Capital Region, a total of 15,175,704 doses have been administered.

The figure is 69.93 percent of the total vaccination target in the capital region.

Of these vaccine jabs, 8,339,430 were given as first dose while 6,836,274 were administered as second doses, he added.

More Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses arrive in Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More COVID-19 vaccines procured by the government from the US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer-BioNTech have been delivered to the Philippines, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said.

The NTF said that a total of 728,910 doses of Pfizer vaccines arrived in the country on Thursday night.

From this batch, 677,430 doses arrived at the NAIA Terminal 3 and were sent to the Pharmaserv cold storage facility in Marikina City, while 51,480 doses were first dropped off in Cebu.

The remaining 92,430 doses will be flown to Davao on Friday.

NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the country is expecting to receive the bulk of COVID-19 vaccines this October, particularly those coming from Pfizer.

“We would like to thank the US government for providing us access to Western vaccines, at the same time, providing us with more than 10 million fresh donations of Pfizer vaccines,” he said in a statement.

Brett Blackshaw, counselor for political affairs of the US State Department cited the strong cooperation between the Philippines and United States in the global fight against the pandemic.

“We are pleased to see this delivery of over half a million US-made vaccines to the Philippines. We are in this COVID fight together, the Philippine people, the American people – people around the world and every one of these vaccines as Pres. Biden said yesterday is a little dose of hope,” he said.

Nearly 11 million doses of procured and donated Pfizer vaccines doses have been delivered to the country.

Aside from the 10 million donated Pfizer shots, the NTF said that the Philippines is also set to receive additional doses from the 500 million doses pledged by the United States government to low-income countries.

“Yesterday, [President Joe] Biden already announced that they will be giving 500 million of Pfizer and we were informed that the Philippines will be part of the low-income and [middle] income countries that will be given the fresh donations of Pfizer vaccines.” Galvez said.

A total of 66,699,340 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from various manufacturers have been delivered to the country since February.

The Philippine government is looking to expand its target COVID-19 vaccination coverage to include 90% of the country’s population due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

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